Holiday Prelude Concert
Fall 2018 Concert Notes
Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Holiday Brass
Sunday November 18, 2018 3:00 pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut
- CD & Clips - Concert Photos -
These concert notes were prepared by soprano Ginnie Carey.
Arise, Your Light Has Come – David Danner (1951 - 1993)
Musician, composer, arranger and producer of religious music, David Lynn Danner wrote songs that are found mostly in Baptist hymnals. This dynamic choral work with brass fanfares incorporates Wachet Auf by Philipp Nicolai (1556 - 1608), a Lutheran pastor and prolific hymn writer from Westphalia. It was translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827 - 1878), whose other translations include Praise to the Lord, the Almighty and Now Thank We All Our God.
Song of the Angels – arr. Mark Hayes
This unique combination of two beloved angel-themed carols was conceived by Mr. Hayes, an award-winning concert pianist, composer, arranger and conductor.
Angels We Have Heard on High is based on the 18th century French carol Les Anges Dans Nos Compagnes, with lyrics inspired by the original French. James Chadwick (1813 - 1882), the Anglo-Irish Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexam and Newcastle, wrote new lyrics which follow the story line of the French text, but are not an actual translation.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was composed by Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788) and included in the 1739 Hymns and Sacred Poems published by his brother John Wesley. George Whitefield (1714 - 1770) adapted the original version and changed the opening lines to the familiar words we know today. Mark Hayes composed the new setting especially for this work.
1831 - 1908
1835 - 1893
O Little Town of Bethlehem – Lewis Redner; words by Phillips Brooks; arr. Dan Forrest
The story of this beloved carol is a sort of Christmas miracle in itself. Phillips Brooks was an Episcopal rector in Philadelphia who had visited in the Holy Land, including Bethlehem, at Christmas in 1865. Three years later, as Christmas was approaching, he wrote a simple poem for the Sunday school Christmas service and asked Lewis Redner, the church organist, to write a tune for it. Mr. Redner struggled to come up with anything and finally went to bed. He related that he heard the "angel-strain whispering in his ear" as he slept, and wrote it down. Neither he nor Mr. Redner ever thought the carol would last beyond that Christmas of 1868. Arranger Dan Forrest, one of our favorite composers, has given their creation a new arrangement filled with peace, wonder and awe. Three of Dan Forrest's compositions will be featured in our Spring Concert.
1881 - 1965
People, Look East – Eleanor Farjeon; arr. Craig Courtney
Originally titled "Carol of Advent", this joyful Advent song was first printed in The Oxford Book of Carols in 1928. Poet and author Eleanor Farjeon is beloved in her native England for her popular and award winning children's books, but in America, her best-known work is the hymn "Morning Has Broken". Her poem, "People, Look East" was set to the French tune Besanšon, which probably originated in the seventeenth century, and was already used as the melody for a traditional French carol. Pianist, cellist and composer Craig Courtney has created a stunning arrangement with brilliant four-hand piano accompaniment.
Kim André Arnesen
Cradle Song – Kim André Arnesen
This beautifully expressive lullaby gives our audience an opportunity to experience the talented young Norwegian composer whose Requiem for Solace will be featured in our upcoming Spring Concert. Cradle Hymn was released on CD, DVD and the US/Norway television special "Christmas in Norway" by the St. Olaf Choir and the Nidaros Cathedral Girls choir in 2013, and became the top seller for the music publisher for the next three holiday seasons. It was also performed for President Obama at the White House in 2016.
Isaac Watts wrote books on geography, astronomy, grammar and philosophy but is best known for his hymns. He was writing poetry at the age of seven and in his early twenties expressed displeasure with the songs sung in church, which were all Psalms at that time. His father told him to write better ones and he did exactly that, writing nearly 800 in his lifetime, including Joy to the World!, O God, Our Help in Ages Past and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. This lovely poem was written in 1715 and originally had fourteen verses. Composer Arnesen has used verses 1, 9, 10 and 13 in his exquisite setting for women's voices.
Tiny Miracle – Pepper Choplin
Composer, conductor and humorist Pepper Choplin has gained a reputation as one of the more imaginative writers in church music today. His creation uses subtle Latin percussion and celebrates the birth of the baby in Bethlehem and those who first came to see Him with.
Whisper! Whisper! – Jay Althouse
A composer of choral music, Mr. Althouse has more than 700 works in print and has also co-written both text books and children's musicals with his wife, Sally K. Albrecht. His original a cappella work for men incorporates part of the traditional African American spiritual Mary Had a Baby with the contrasting "Whisper, whisper" and "Shout it out!" to create a dynamic piece for Christmas.
Celebration of Light – Joseph Martin
A prolific composer and arranger with over 2000 published works both sacred and secular, Mr. Martin is especially known for the variety and scope of his work. This vibrant piece for Hanukkah is a perfect example of his remarkable versatility.
Christmas Joy! – arr. Dan Forrest
Another wonderful creation from Dan Forrest, this medley of Christmas favorites features his signature gorgeous vocal harmonies tied together with brass and bells. His original suite includes On Christmas Night, O, Come Rejoicing and Joy to the World. Ms. Heidrich has chosen to add While Shepherds Watched and Somerset Carol to add even more joy to the mix.
On Christmas Night, All Christians Sing was first published by Luke Wadding (c1628 - 1691) in his Small Garland of Pious and Godly Songs in 1684. He was Bishop of Ferns, County Wexford, Ireland. The poem is commonly attributed to him, although it is possible that he merely collected it from another source. Although the text was earlier set to another tune, it is sung today to a tune called Sussex Carol which Ralph Vaughan Williams heard near Sussex in England and published in 1919.
While Shepherds Watched is by Nahum Tate (1652 - 1715) an Irish hymnist, lyricist and playwright who moved to London, and became Poet Laureate to William III. Before 1700 only the Psalms were permitted to be sung in the Anglican Church. This carol was published in the 1700 supplement to Tate and Nicholas Brady's New Version of the Psalms of David and was the only Christmas hymn authorized to be sung at the time as well as the only one in the supplement that is still in use today. We are singing it to the tune Winchester Old, written by George Kirbye (1565 - 1634).
O, Come Rejoicing is a traditional Polish carol that describes the scene in Bethlehem and the jubilation of the shepherds and the angels. Its origins seem to be lost in the mists of time.
Somerset Carol, also known as Come All You Worthy Gentlemen, is an English folk carol that appears to have been part of the Wassail tradition. Cecil Sharp heard it sung in Somerset by a Mr. Rapsey of Bridgwater, who said he had learned it from his mother and sang it in the streets of the town with other children at Christmas time. It was first published in Sharp and Marson's Folk Songs from Somerset in 1905.
Joy to the World!, based on Psalm 98, is another wonderful Christmas carol from the prolific hymnist Isaac Watts, who also wrote Cradle Hymn. It is set to the tune Antioch by George Frideric Handel (1685 - 1759), the German-born English Baroque composer who wrote the most famous of all oratorios, Messiah, as well as Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
1902 - 1964
Ruby Pickens Tartt
1880 - 1974
1915 - 2002
The Last Month of the Year – Vera Hall; adapted and arranged by Ruby Pickens Tartt and Alan Lomax; arr. Mac Huff
Adele "Vera" Hall is considered to be the foremost singer of African American spirituals and blues to come out of Alabama. A cook and washerwoman of deep religious faith, she recorded a large body of work for the Library of Congress with the help of Alabama folklorist Ruby Pickens Tartt, ethnomusicologist John A. Lomax and his folklorist son Alan Lomax, as they made many trips around Sumter County recording Vera Hall and others in what became a ten-volume record set, The Ballad Hunter. Because of these recordings, her music is widely available and continues to influence contemporary artists today. This joyous spiritual asks "Now tell me, when was Jesus born?" and was recorded by the Blind Boys of Alabama on their Grammy Award winning Christmas album Go Tell It on the Mountain.
A RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS
We celebrate the diverse music of Russia with three eclectic examples.
1885 - 1961
The Sleigh (Á La Russe) – Richard Kountz (1896 - 1950) and Ivor Tchervanow; arr. Wallingford Riegger
Carol of the Russian Children – arr. Audrey Snyder
Based on a 16th century Russian carol that is sometimes also translated as Carol of the Little Russian Children, this gentle piece captures the great starkness and beauty of the Russian winter. Some suspect that it could be an even older pagan song that was later transformed into a Christmas carol.
Tina Johns Heidrich
Kalinka – arr. Tina Johns Heidrich
Probably the best-known Russian song of all time, Kalinka is certainly the most popular. Although most people, even Russians, believe that it is a very old folk song, it was actually written in 1860 by composer, author Vasilyev Evening. He later gave it to the choir of Agrenev-Slavyansky, which performed it both in Russia and abroad until the early 20th century.
Lively and light-hearted, the song celebrates the snowball tree and is difficult to translate accurately because it contains many expressions with double meanings. Over time, the song's popularity inspired a dance that is often performed by Russian folk-dance groups. It was also used in competition by the Olympic figure skating champions Irina Rodina and Alexander Zaitsev. Ezio Pinza sang it in the 1953 film Tonight We Sing, a romanticized biography of the great Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin
(1942 - 2007)
Children's Winter – Dermot O'Reilly; arr. Tova Olson
An Irish-born musician, composer and producer who emigrated first to Toronto and then Newfoundland, Dermot O'Reilly wrote many songs throughout his career as both a solo artist, and with the noted groups he founded and played with over the years. Children's Winter, with its nostalgic recollections of childhood and days spent playing in the snow, is one of his most popular compositions.
Beth Nielsen Chapman
There's Still My Joy – Melissa Manchester, Matt Rollings, and Beth Nielsen Chapman; arr. Roger Emerson
From the Bronx, singer, songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester has been a part of the American entertainment world since 1971. This inspiring song with its message of finding hope and peace at Christmas is from her 1997 album Joy. It is not surprising that Ms. Manchester and her co-writers are all Grammy Award winners.
Glow – Brett Eldredge and Ross Copperman; arr. Ed Lojeski
Brett Eldredge wrote this song with his pal and frequent collaborator Ross Copperman. It was the only original track and became title song on his holiday album, Glow, in 2016. It has proven so popular that there is now a Glow deluxe edition, just released on October 26, 2018 for the current holiday season. Entertainment Weekly described the original album as "a brassy romantic collection with bold big-band arrangements". Brett Eldredge says, "I love Christmas music more than just about anything in the world." The inspiration for the song came to him "as the vision of someone you love, making your whole world light up and he believes "It captures the simplicity of sitting next to the dimly lit Christmas tree and watching her glow."
Christmas Memories – Rosephanye Powell
A choral composer and singer, Rosephanye Dunn Powell was valedictorian of her high school and received a basketball scholarship to college, but realized quickly that it was not possible to do both basketball and music. Presently Dr. Powell is Professor of Voice at Auburn University and her choral music is in great demand because of its diversity and musicality. This romantic ballad can be found on the album Christmas at America's First Cathedral. It is one of six selections comprising a suite, Christmas Give, that was commissioned by Baltimore Choral Arts and premiered in 2009 at the Baltimore Basilica.
1945 - 2015
Testify! – Dottie Peoples; arr. Mike Speck, Lari Goss, and Danny Zaloudik
The great gospel singer Dottie Peoples was the oldest of ten children and began singing at a young age. She continued to sing throughout high school and her distinctive voice caught the attention of the legendary Dorothy Norwood, who asked Dottie to join her on the road. The Rolling Stones hired them to open their show on their tour that year, which also included Stevie Wonder. After the tour ended Dottie became interested in jazz and developed a reputation as a jazz singer after moving to Atlanta. When she joined a church and began to sing gospel again, she came to a realization, "I got back to my roots and I've been singing gospel ever since." Dottie is a songwriter and a vocalist with an electrifying stage presence. Testify is from her 1997 album by the same name and incorporates Go, Tell it on the Mountain, an African American spiritual dating back to 1865 that was collected by John Wesley Work, and Look What the Lord Has Done by songwriter and Christian minister Dr. Mark Hanby.